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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Simon, Inara, Zoe and Jayne make contact with Chen. Kaylee tries to keep busy, Rafe meets River's father and Mal gets a mysterious wave. Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara, River/Rafe
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1177 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: Sorry for the slight delay - life got in the way of fic - the horror!
The angst keeps building, so enjoy the ride. Thanks again to Leiasky for the initial beta. And thanks to all of you, dear readers, who keep commenting! *Hugs*
Simon sat on the couch across from the infirmary, his expression blank as he gazed at the capture in his hand. He had already cycled through the dozen or so images contained on its memory chip and, deciding on his favorite, he had frozen the image to one in particular.
Inara found him like this, a bit despondent and forlorn and her heart ached for the younger man. Her own guilt was already eating away at her – she had been selfish in the past few weeks allowing her own problems to get in the way of Simon and Kaylee, two dear friends who obviously needed her. Secretly, Inara had been glad when Simon had devised this plan and determined she could be of use. At this point, she figured it was the least she could do.
Entering the room on her silent feet, she moved to Simon’s side and sat down. Glancing over his shoulder, she caught sight of the image that had him mesmerized: Kaylee was front and center, a grin as big as the ‘verse on her face, while surrounding her were at least twenty people, all with matching smiles and laughing eyes.
“She looks so happy here,” Simon murmured wistfully after a time. Settling back into the couch, Inara turned her knees towards him and listened as he continued. “Look at that smile. She just can’t contain her joy.” Sighing heavily, Simon dropped the image into his lap and rubbed his hands over his face. “She doesn’t deserve this.”
Frowning slightly, Inara gingerly took the capture from his lap, thumbing through the images. There were more of the same people, all with Kaylee, and Inara recognized them for the family members they were. But there were a few, towards the end, of Kaylee with her new family – the crew – and just a couple with Simon.
Pausing the playback loop on a capture of Simon and Kaylee the night of their engagement party, Inara held it out for him to see. “She looks happy here too.”
Dropping his hands into his lap, Simon focused his eyes on the image she’d selected and felt the smallest smile quirk his lips. Kaylee was indeed beaming, her arms wrapped tight around his waist while his were wrapped tight around her shoulders. They were both smiling and Simon’s heart warmed with the memory, before again chilling with the harshness of their reality.
Taking the slim capture from her, he turned it off and placed it on the low table in front of them. “That was a long time ago,” he said softly, his blue-eyed gaze fixed on his hands in his lap.
Resting a gentle hand to his knee, Inara chided, “Not so long ago.” As Simon sighed once more, she continued. “I know you want to blame yourself for everything that’s happened. I know it makes it easier.”
As he flashed her a sharp-eyed gaze, Inara amended, “It’s easier to be mad at someone, even yourself, than it is to be helpless. Trust me, Simon, I know.” Her mind guiltily drifting to her dead child and her initial rage at the Guild for keeping the secret, Inara shook the thought loose and looked back to the young doctor. “But I also know that none of this is your fault. And you know that too.”
Leaning forward, Simon rested his elbows on his knees and cupped his chin in his hands. He knew Inara was right. He also knew that being angry wasn’t good for anyone and could, in the end, cloud his judgment when he needed it most. But that didn’t stop him from wishing that things were different. Or from shuddering every time he recalled Kaylee’s pained face as he had left her with the Butlers.
“I just want to keep her safe, Inara,” Simon admitted softly, his eyes staring at a far off point. “Safe, happy and loved. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
“You do that, Simon,” Inara assured, leaning forward and matching his pose. “You know you do. And you just have to trust that things are unfolding as they’re meant to. You have to trust that you and Kaylee can survive this. She’s strong.”
Smiling softly, Simon told her, “I know.”
“Then have faith, Simon.” Inara’s words were much firmer and more reassuring than she had anticipated and she decided to go with it. “In the end, it’s all we really have.”
He nodded once, but didn’t comment more and Inara let the silence grow between them. Finally, she reached out and took the capture back. Rising, she held out a hand to him and said, “Zoe wants to see these. Are you ready?”
Glancing up to her, Simon took her hand and rose. “Ready.”
Turning in his chair, Mal quirked an eyebrow at the Butler’s maid thereby signaling her to continue. “We received a message forwarded from your hotel. Would you like to view it in here?”
“Uh, sure, yeah.” Puzzled as to who could possibly be looking for him at the hotel, he eased out of his seat and followed the young woman as she crossed the room and flipped on the wave screen. Pressing a few buttons, she stepped back and told him, “Just hit play when you’re ready.”
Mal thanked her quickly, waiting until she’d exited the room before playing the message. More than surprised by the face on the screen, he listened intently before returning the call.
“So, now, let me get this straight.”
Simon had to wonder how dense the man really was – he’d been trying to “get it straight” for the past thirty minutes and apparently, it still wasn’t clicking. Hiding his discomfort and his annoyance behind a cultured mask of nonchalance he’d perfected as a member of Osirian high society, he took another sip of his tea and waited.
“You want eighteen folk, give or take, to work this new ranch o’ yours?” Harris was hunched forward, his elbows on the small round table. The man was not particularly attractive and Simon figured that had something to do with his line of work. Judging by the jagged scars that ran down one cheek and under his chin, he had to guess Harris had been involved in quite a few brawls – he was currently inspiring some violent tendencies in Simon. “An’ you wan’ ‘em to be a family?”
“Is that possible, Mr. Harris?” Inara asked smoothly, resting a hand on Harris’ arm and smiling beautifully.
Returning her smile with a lewd one of his own, Harris told her, “Well, now, it might be, but I don’t know I got any families for you to take a look at. Y’all might jus’ have to make due with a bunch o’ strangers.” He laughed, a bitter, barking sound that Simon was certain should belong to an animal, not a man. “But fer the right price, anybody can be related.”
Smiling tightly, Simon said, “Yes, well, we’d like our forewoman, Zelda, to hand select our merchandise.” Motioning Zoe forward, Simon waited until her imposing shadow fell across the table before asking, “Will that be all right, Mr. Harris?”
He’d already run an appreciative eye up and down Zoe’s magnificent form, yet he did it again and Simon had the distinct impression that the first mate was using every shred of self-control not to pummel the man. Clucking his tongue in an approving manner, Harris sat back in his seat and drawled, “Well, I ‘spose that’d be fine. But we are gonna have to talk ‘bout the price.”
Shooting Inara a hasty look, Simon sat forward. “What about it?”
“Well, I’m thinkin’ for eighteen folk, especially some young ‘uns who could fetch me a fair price with some other, less reputable folks than yourselves, we’re gonna need to re-negotiate.” Harris grinned again, showing off his top row of yellowed teeth.
“Mister Harris, I think five hundred thousand platinum is plenty for-“
“Well now, boy, I’m thinkin’ you best not be talkin’ ‘bout what you don’t understand. Otherwise, we might needs to walk away for good.” Harris’ hand had fallen casually to the side where his fingertips now brushed over the butt of his gun. Jayne had caught the move and tightened his grip on the side arm just under his coat. His patience had flown out the window almost as soon as they’d entered the room.
“Well, that would be a shame,” Inara interjected, moving her hand to rest against Simon’s arm and bringing his eyes to her face. “You did come so highly recommended.”
“How much more money are we talking?” Simon asked, again turning his gaze to their seedy contact.
Planting his tongue in his cheek, Harris tipped back in his chair, studying the ceiling intently, before turning his gaze to Chen. The other man leaned down so Harris could whisper noisily, but incoherently in his ear. Their overblown ruse was not lost on the crewmen and Simon, Inara, Zoe and Jayne did their best to stay still and expressionless as the men finally determined a suitable price.
“One million platinum,” Harris announced, smiling wide. “That should do it.”
“One million?” Simon breathed, his eyes wide. He’d already hated this man before he’d stepped into the room. But for someone to so willingly and easily extort the lives of others – it was unconscionable. “You have got to be kidding.”
“It should be more,” Harris countered, his eyes narrowing to slits. “But I’m givin’ you a discount on account o’ the fact you’re buyin’ in bulk.”
Rising, Simon bit out, “You stupid son of a-“
Jayne’s and Inara’s admonitions reached him and Simon sat down heavily, realizing how stupid of a move that had been. Still seething, he shot the despicable man across from him a heated look, but held his tongue from any further outburst.
Eyes narrowing, Harris studied Simon for a moment longer before throwing his head back and letting out a harsher, longer bark of a laugh than he had previously. “Well, boy, I had to admit – wasn’t sure if there was a back bone under all them pretty fits.” Glancing to Chen, he muttered, “Will wonders never cease.”
Swallowing hard, Simon sat forward and kept an edge to his voice as he said, “Yes, well now that we’ve developed some – respect – for each other, how about we stop ruttin’ around?”
Quirking an eyebrow, Harris questioned, “How?”
Sitting back, Simon told him, “Zelda picks the merchandise we want. After we’ve determined they’re physically as capable as you say, we can further discuss cost.”
Frowning, Harris rubbed his chin, his face adopting a look of fake contemplation. “I don’t know. I can’t be doin’ business with folk who can’t appreciate the high-quality goods I’m sellin’. O’ course could be, you jus’ don’t got the funds.”
“We have the money,” Simon insisted, rolling his eyes even as Inara gripped his forearm lightly. “That’s not the issue. The issue is being overcharged by a worthless piece of gou shi-“
“Sir, I think we’ve made our point,” Zoe intoned from his side, a firm, iron grip clamping around his shoulder.
Biting his tongue, Simon snapped his mouth shut, allowing his accusatory stare to finish the statement. Harris’ face was burning red and Simon could see the tension in Chen’s shoulders. The other man was reaching for a gun, that much was obvious; of course, the barely imperceptible growl from Jayne’s throat had stilled the movement.
“Mister Harris, please, I hope we can still do business.” Inara’s diplomatic tone and sickeningly sweet smile charmed the man and he nodded reluctantly.
“Well o’ course, miss. It’s easy for things to get a mite heated when we’re talkin’ ‘bout such figures.” Rising, he extended a hand towards Simon, which the younger man shook. “I’ll be in touch with Zelda here so she can come by an’ take a gander. We’ll renegotiate after the fact.”
Nodding stiffly, Simon offered Inara his arm which the woman took gratefully and turned to leave, Jayne and Zoe flanking them as they exited the small hovel of an establishment. Once the door had closed behind them, Harris turned to Chen with a wide, lascivious grin on his gnarled features.
“What’s that for?” Chen asked petulantly, disliking these buyers more and more.
“We’re gonna be rich,” Harris told him gaily, flopping back in his seat with a sigh. “It’s always a good day when you’re workin’ with suckers.”
Rafe wandered into the Butler’s kitchen, pleased to find the room empty. He was unaccustomed to being surrounded by such wealth, even though he knew the Butlers were considered middle class by Sihnon’s inflated standards. Still, while he was woefully aware of his rough ways and less than stellar manners when in their company, he was also growing used to the silk sheets and fine food. He would definitely miss the luxury once they were again sailing through the back.
Of course, he’d be with River again and that made any sacrifice more than worthwhile. He really hated the fact that she was out there without him, risking her life, placing herself in harm’s way in an effort to save the day. Rafe knew she was more than capable of caring for herself – in actuality she was more than capable of protecting them all, but he loved her – completely. And that love inspired a loyalty and protectiveness deep in his gut. One that drove him to wish for the ability to build a high tower where he could lock her away, put her out of the long-armed reach of dragons and the Alliance and all her other demons. But he couldn’t. So Rafe would just have to settle for loving her, holding her when her nightmares got to be too much and laughing with her when joy filled her heart. It was enough.
Walking to the Butler’s large and always stocked refrigerator, he pulled it open, peering in to determine what exactly he wanted to snack on. The first few days all of the crew, even Kaylee, had been hesitant to just go in and take what they wanted, but after Evelyn had overheard Rafe telling Mal about how hungry he was, their hostess had insisted they help themselves anytime, day or night. When Mal had offered to repay her, she’d simply waved her hand and smiled big. And while Rafe might have been modest, his stomach was not that shy.
Rooting around for something, he stopped abruptly as he heard the sound of a whispered curse and the clank of tools on tile. Shutting the door, he peered around the island in the middle of the kitchen to find Kaylee sitting on the floor, the Butler’s toaster in her lap and a myriad of tools spread in a semi-circle around her. Smiling softly at the sight, Rafe leaned onto the counter and teased, “Whatcha ya doin’?”
Jumping slightly at the unexpected voice, Kaylee turned a sheepish grin to him as she explained, “It’s been burnin’ the toast.” As he sagely nodded his agreement, Kaylee set back to work, trading out one screwdriver for another. “Plus, I gotta do somethin’ to keep my hands busy.”
Reaching for an apple from the heaping bowl before him, Rafe took a healthy bite from it and rounded the counter, sitting beside her cross-legged. “Want some help?” he asked around the juicy fruit, wiping his mouth along his sleeve.
Shaking her head once, Kaylee told him, “Nah, I got it.”
Rafe watched her in silence for a few minutes, noting the sure way she disassembled and examined each piece of offending machinery. He’d known based on the shape Serenity’d been in when he signed on how talented she must have been. But seeing her work firsthand, even on something as benign as a toaster, was a sight to behold.
“Do ya miss it?”
“Miss what?” she asked absentmindedly, her deft fingers working to clean a particularly encrusted bit.
“Mechanickin’,” Rafe clarified, taking another bite of the deliciously good apple. “You know, Serenity?”
Pausing in her work, Kaylee stared at her hands, now covered with grime and took a deep breath. Cocking her head to the side, she regarded her replacement with a thoughtful expression. “Thems are two totally different questions.”
Reaching at her side for a dish rag, Kaylee began cleaning her hands as she explained. “Fixin’ stuff, it’s what I’ve done since I was a lil’ girl. My pa, he-“ Her breath caught in her throat as Kaylee remembered her father, his dancing brown eyes and deep, belly laugh. She prayed she’d get to hear it again. Swallowing past the small polyp of fear, she continued. “Well, he always said I had a gift an’ I ‘spose he was right. But I got other gifts in my life now.” Glancing back to her left hand, she took extra care to clean the residue from her ring finger, making her wedding band and engagement ring sparkle. “I got Simon an’ he an’ I – we’re tryin’ to make it work.”
“Is it?” Rafe asked. He had no idea what had made him so bold. He would never, under normal circumstances pry, but he was acutely aware of his similarity to the young woman before him – besides both being gifted with machines, they were also both in love with someone who came from a completely different world. “Is it workin’?”
Sighing, Kaylee leaned back against the cabinet and regarded him with a small grin. “Most days, yeah, it is. We been real lucky, meetin’ the Butlers an’ their girls. They’re really nice folk. An’ Simon, he’s so happy to be practicin’ medicine in a hospital again.” Her smile deepening, her mind found a recent memory and she couldn’t help the light that lit up her eyes. “He came home, ‘bout a month ago, so gorram excited, you’da thought he was a kid on Christmas mornin’. In a rush, he started tellin’ me all about how he reattached this guy’s hand an’ it looked like he’d still have a full range of motion. He was so happy,” Kaylee sighed wistfully. “Seein’ ‘im like that, it means the world to me.”
Rafe studied her for a moment, recognizing as she smiled again and chuckled softly at some other memory why Simon was so head over heels in love with her. She was a remarkable woman and her smile could light up any room. “But are you happy?” he asked again, stressing the ‘you,’ and causing Kaylee’s eyes to snap to his face.
Shrugging, she nodded absently, her smile dropping a bit as she answered. “Yeah, I guess. It’s been better since I been able to volunteer at the Orphanage. All them lil’ ones, they’re so cute,” she sighed. “O’ course the first few months after y’all left, I couldn’t do much o’ anythin’. I was still real tired an’ recoverin’.
“I ain’t gonna tell ya there aren’t days when I ain’t bored,” she confided. “But this is a new life, for me an’ Simon both. An’ we promised each other we’d give it a try.” Pulling her gaze from the far-off point it had fixated on, she looked to him and said firmly, “An’ Simon does make me the happiest I have ever been in my life. I’d live on the edge of a volcano with that man, jus’ so’s long as I got to be with him.”
“Somethin’ tells me such a sacrifice won’t be necessary,” Rafe kidded, delighting when Kaylee laughed at his joke. Sobering slightly, he added, “But if it’s any consolation, I know how you feel.”
Quirking an inquisitive eyebrow in his direction, Kaylee asked, “Oh? Really?” As Rafe nodded hesitantly, she prompted, “You an’ River, huh?”
“I love her, Kaylee,” Rafe blurted, surprising himself with the outburst. “I mean, I love her love her. Like, I can’t get enough o’ her.” As Kaylee’s grin deepened, Rafe felt his courage bolstered and he forged ahead. “But her an’ me, we are so different, an’ I don’t know if … Well, I’m thinkin’ that eventually she’s gonna realize I ain’t enough. Not for someone as special as her.”
Frowning, Kaylee sat forward on her knees, reaching for Rafe’s hand and squeezing it firmly in her own. Holding his gaze with her steely eyes, she told him, “Now, you listen to me, Rafe. I’ve known River for goin’ on two years now, an’ I knew her back when she was well an’ truly crazy. That girl, she’s got as big a heart as her brother. An’ the fact that she’s decided to share it with you …” Pausing, Kaylee considered the way River lit up anytime Rafe was even within earshot. She remembered fondly the few waves her sister-in-law had sent in the past months, detailing every step of her burgeoning relationship with Serenity’s new mechanic. In truth, Kaylee had never seen River happier.
“She’s smart,” Kaylee continued, glad that Rafe’s attention was riveted to her words. “That ain’t no secret, but let me tell you a lil’ somethin’ about the Tams: they love with their whole hearts, minds an’ souls. An’ I know River is in love with you. That won’t change unless you do somethin’ to change it.”
Startled, both young people sprung to their feet, Rafe holding out a hand to Kaylee as a courtesy. Smiling softly at him, she turned and felt her heart wedge itself into her throat as she regarded their visitor. Glancing to her in confusion, Rafe was about to ask who he was, when Kaylee greeted him. “Mister Tam. It’s nice to see ya ‘gain.”
Smiling, Gabriel Tam stepped forward, reaching Kaylee and pressing a light kiss to her cheek. “Call me Gabriel, Kaylee, please.” Looking to Rafe, Gabriel allowed ice blue eyes to run up and down the man’s tall frame before extending his hand and introducing myself. “I am Gabriel Tam, River’s father.”
Swallowing thickly, Rafe shook the man’s hand, praying his palms weren’t too sweaty. “Mister Tam, sir, it’s an honor. River’s told me lots about you.”
Smiling softly, Gabriel intoned quietly, “No, she hasn’t. But it’s nice of you to say so.”
“Well, I’m Rafe. Serenity’s new mechanic.” The younger man was now shifting his weight from one foot to the next, trying desperately not to let his nervousness show and failing miserably. “Me an’ River, we’re ah … well-“
“They’re sweeties,” Kaylee interjected, placing a light hand on Rafe’s arm to still his anxious movement. “River’s crazy ‘bout him,” she confided, leaning her head towards Gabriel and lowering her voice to a loud whisper.
“So I gathered,” Gabriel countered, matching her tone. “And apparently, you’re very taken with her as well,” he added, watching bemusedly as Rafe’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. “Judging from what bit of your conversation I heard.”
“Ah, yeah, well … We were …”
Kaylee rolled her eyes affectionately, taking Gabriel’s arm and leading him over to a nearby chair. The boy could be worse than Simon on his worst day. “Can I get ya somethin’, Mister Tam? I gotta admit I wasn’t expectin’ to see you.”
Waving away her hospitality, Gabriel waited until she was seated before joining her. “I’m sorry to have just barged in, but I wanted to let you know that I heard from Simon. He looked very well.”
Gripping the older man’s hand tightly in her own, Kaylee asked breathlessly, “Is everythin’ okay? What happened?”
Patting her hand reassuringly, Gabriel wished fleetingly that he’d asked Regan to come along as well. She was much better at dealing with these emotions than he was. “He just stated that they need some more money. He waved to ask me to see it found its way to his account.”
Releasing a small sigh, Kaylee sat back in her chair, willing her heart rate to return to normal. “Well, that’s good then. Means they made contact with the right folk, I ‘spose?”
“Yes, I think we should take it as an encouraging sign.” Gabriel squeezed her hand briefly in his own before releasing it, glad to see a bit of color return to the younger woman’s face. She had certainly been through more than her fair share. “And how are you, dear? I’d heard you’ve been having a rough go of it.”
Blushing, Kaylee shook her head once and tried to smile past the obvious pain and guilt she was feeling. “Oh, I’m shiny, Gabriel. Jus’ be real happy when Simon an’ the rest of ‘em get back.”
“That’s what we all want, dear,” he agreed, giving her another small smile. Turning to regard Rafe, the young man still standing uncomfortably off to the side, he asked, “Isn’t it?”
Clearing his throat loudly, Rafe answered, “Oh yeah, definitely. Everybody back, safe an’ sound.”
Sharing a knowing look with their guest, Kaylee smiled again. “Rafe’s a good guy, Gabriel,” she added, nodding once to reinforce her point. “You should give him a chance.”
Nodding eagerly in agreement, Rafe agreed. “Yes, please. A chance would be great.” Sobering, he took a step towards the elder man and added, “I do really care for your daughter, sir.”
Smiling wide, Gabriel rose and clapped a hand to the man’s shoulder. “That’s all I ask son. She’s been through too much, survived too much for any foolishness. Just love her as best as you’re able and you’ll be doing far better by her than her mother or I ever did.”
Brows knitting in confusion, Rafe darted a glance to Kaylee who shook her head ‘no’ imperceptibly. Getting the hint, Rafe looked back to Gabriel and simply said, “Please know I do – love her that is. An’ I hope we get to know each other better once all o’ this is over.”
Nodding thoughtfully, Gabriel did not agree or disagree with the sentiment, simply held Rafe’s gaze in his for another minute. Finally, as if breaking a spell, the older man stepped away and said, “Well, I should really be going. I just wanted to come by and let you know I’d heard from them.” Looking over his shoulder to Kaylee, he reminded her, “If you need anything, anything at all, please-“
“Don’t worry,” she interrupted gently, rising to place a light peck to his cheek. “I won’t be shy.”
Returning her smile, Gabriel gave Rafe a nod of goodbye before exiting the room. Staring off after the perplexing man, Rafe waited a full minute, before turning back to face his friend. “Um, what was that all about?”
Frowning softly, Kaylee pursed her lips, trying to determine what she should tell him. It wasn’t the shortest story in history. Although at this point, they seemed to have an abundance of time.
Threading her arm through his, Kaylee directed him back towards the fridge. “How ‘bout you make me lunch an’ I tell you all about it?”
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 8:53 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 10:03 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 10:10 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 1:21 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 7:06 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 9:17 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 11:24 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 4:36 PM
Friday, June 15, 2007 11:40 AM
Monday, June 18, 2007 2:31 AM
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